This June, Apple’s iPhone turned 10 years old – an impressive feat for a single smartphone brand today. It was a revolutionary device – but not from a hardware point of view. Phones with touchscreens, operating systems, and capable of complex tasks like running games, handling office applications, even doing some basic accounting, were available even before. What Apple did with the iPhone was to make them “cool” – desirable to the general public. Over 7 billion smartphones were manufactured ever since, and about half of them are active today. But this was just one of the many things the release of the smartphone as we know it had on our lives. There are many things smartphones have fundamentally changed over the course of the last decade – here are a few of them for you to think about.
Smartphones have proven to be the perfect portable gaming device. Today, they are the most widespread – and most lucrative – gaming platform, with about 33% of the world’s gaming revenue being generated by them. There are an amazing variety of games available for smartphone users, and their business model – free to play, with ads or paid benefits inside the game – makes them surprisingly popular among players. Today, you can access Red Flush online from your Apple device or your Android-powered smartphone completely free of charge, from anywhere. Or, if you like, you can make a deposit to your Red Flush account and access its games for “real”. All Red Flush games run in a web browser, on virtually any smartphone that has one. App marketplaces are filled with hundreds of thousands of games (over half a million, according to statistics), and they are played by millions of users each day.
Mobile internet was barely taking its first steps in 2007 but has evolved at an unprecedented rate ever since. The development of mobile internet standards like EDGE, WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE – the third generation mobile network – has started in 1998. By today, 3G is widespread, 4G is available in most urban areas, and 5G is being tested in many areas.
At the same time, smartphones determined an unprecedented explosion in mobile internet subscriptions. With only 15% of users having one in Europe in 2007, their numbers have grown to almost 65% of all mobile subscribers by 2014. The situation was similar in the Americas (6% in 2007, 59% in 2014), Asia (23% in 2014 from 3% in 2007) and even in Africa, growing from 0.2% in the iPhone’s year of release to 19% seven years later.
Smartphones have accelerated the development of a variety of technologies over the last decade. Some have become smaller – it’s the smartphone to blame for the shrinking of the memory card (high-end cameras still use huge ones), the improvement of sensors, screens, cameras, and batteries, to name just a few. Users were constantly demanding better and more capable devices, and manufacturers had no choice but comply.
The impact of smartphones go way beyond technology and entertainment. For now, we can safely say that they are the gadget of the century, and they are here to stay – until they are replaced by something equally cool (and portable).